May 24, 2010

Our Adoption Story

*Note from Mindy:  So many readers have asked me questions about our own adoption experience that I decided to publish here the entries from my personal blog as they happened.  I share this because the Heart to Heart agency we used has 18 babies being born in June and July of 2010… and they do not have enough homestudy-ready adoptive families for them.   

What I share here is quite personal, I know, and this is really putting myself out there for scrutiny… because these are my thoughts and emotions (un-edited) as they happened. I hope that this information will allow you to experience ‘second-hand’ what adoption was like for us, and perhaps if you are going through it yourself, you can relate and possibly see how we coped with all the ups and downs. Through these posts, you literally will walk with us as we begin the process from Day 1 all the way through finalization with our son, and beyond…

I know that some of these posts are religious in nature, as I am a very religious person, and I truly believe that my son came to our family by divine design. I apologize in advance if the emotions I talk about are not familiar to you or do not fit your religious beliefs. I will try to my best to insert explanations where I feel appropriate, but hopefully you will be patient with me and my views on God, religion, and family.

Again, I know that by doing this I and my family open ourselves up to judgements and ask that you read these entries in the spirit in which they were intended. Please understand that, until now, these experiences have only been shared with close family and friends and were originally intended to be personal journal entries. As such, they are very personal, sacred, and heart-felt moments of mine and I hope you will treat them with the same respect even if you don’t agree.

Lastly, in an effort to make my 37 single-spaced pages of journal entries into something more reader friendly, I have broken my writings into nine separate posts, linked one to another, instead of one massive post. This way you can read a little one day and come back to it another, etc. Thanks for understanding!

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Jan 4, 2008

You know, everyone has times in their lives that are simply more difficult than others. I suppose it is the normal cycle of life. For the first eight years of our marriage, I would say that my husband and I had it pretty easy. Not that everything was always perfect, but for the most part we were able to “make lemonade” with anything that did go wrong in an otherwise extremely blessed life. For the last two years, however, I would say life has become much harder. Not to say that life was at its worst, or that there aren’t bigger problems we could face, but these two years have been long and difficult in many respects for our family.

To begin with, our move back to Utah from Missouri was definitely an adjustment. We really miss everything about Missouri. It simply felt like home. It felt so good to experience life outside of the Utah ‘bubble’, to experience the charm of the Midwest, and get to know and love so many new people. Utah, for us, really has a very unique atmosphere (good in most ways), but it can take some getting used to.

For purposes of background, my husband and I have been trying to have another baby for nearly two years without success. The short version is this: I had an IUD (Mirena) put in after our #4 daughter was born and had it removed shortly after moving here. After nearly six months of no baby and a very irregular menstrual cycle, I called my OB for an appointment. All the doctors swore up and down that the IUD has extremely minimal side effects or long term problems when it became more mainstream in use (and when I had it put in). Since then, however, the statistics became more concrete and I happened to fall into the 0.02% who experiences complications with it. This ‘no-baby’ period may seem short to many of you, but for us that is a really long time. We seemed to get pregnant at will with our previous four girls. After going through a variety of tests (progesterone therapy, hysterysalpingograms, ovulation tests, etc), the doctor seemed to find nothing abnormal and simply wanted to put me on Clomid. (This would seem like a very risky move given that our first two girls were identical twins, and our #4 daughter started out as a twin.) Out of concern that we could end up with quadruplets, I declined and called my uncle.

You see, my uncle is one of the most prestigious fertility specialists west of the Mississippi. And, yes, this new uncle/niece interaction was a little strange at first! At least in my head, but in reality I was OK with it. My uncle is uber professional and very kind to be helping us try to sort this out. If anyone needs a good fertility doctor, I would most definitely recommend him.

My uncle had me come in to complete more specific tests (often at varying times of my cycle, so this process took months). During one of the ultrasounds on my ovaries, he found scarring on my uterus which was causing my body to retain blood (thus the weird cycles) and very likely the cause of infertility. YES!! Finally a real problem that seemed would require a quick fix, but… that was too easy. We have now had two invasive procedures to correct the problem, neither of which has worked, and talked to several doctors who are all wondering where to go next. Because it isn’t a common problem, there isn’t a common fix either. In escalation, my uncle had many more amazing services he could provide to more reasonably guarantee us a baby and a gender of our choice. Those procedures, however, would be quite expensive even after he waived is own time. As it was, this discovery was already becoming costly.

We have obviously run the whole spectrum of emotions. I have been angry, bitter, hurt, sad, emotional, happy, and excited… sometimes all at once. Watching the calendar every day, like a hawk, desperately holding on to any hope… just to come crashing down when the cycle started all over. Living in a neighborhood where there are 16 wonderful women that have had babies in the last six months doesn’t help either. I don’t begrudge them their babies at all, they are wonderful women, but I want one too. I’ve tried to be strong by being kind, smile, and be happy for all of them, as I should. That, however does not stop the pain.

Many of you may be asking, “She has four beautiful daughters, why does she need more?” The answer is simply, because we don’t feel done. When you know, you know. It does not matter if you have zero children or 12. With our #4 daughter starting as twins, I think we simply got used to the idea of five children so when we lost that other twin… there is an empty hole in our family. Somehow, it doesn’t feel finished. Call it a gut feeling, mother’s intuition, or the whisperings of the Spirit … we just aren’t done. I wish I knew better how to say it.

Plus I grew up in a family of five kids.  I know how much fun having lots of siblings can be.  I want that for my children. (Yeah, that’s me when I was little. I’m in the front row on the right–the chubby one! LOL)

I finally am now at a point where I have some peace with it all. I still want a baby. My arms and heart ‘ache’ for a baby. But I am also ok with it, I guess. I have made my peace with Heavenly Father and put it in His hands and on His timeline.

I know in my head that the tide will eventually change again, and things will look better. For now I’m just trying to keep my head above water and do the best I can. I’m not saying life hasn’t had good moments or been fun along the way, but that overall these past two years have been harder than normal.

Sometimes you just have to play the hand that life deals you, ya know???

Friday April 18th, 2008

Today I am finally going to blog about adoption. Although my hubby and I have now been working on the adoption stuff for three months, it will be the first time that I am writing about it publically. My husband and I had mutually decided to keep it under wraps for a few months just to see how it would go and gauge how we would feel about it all. Let me start from the beginning…..

When I was about 12 years old, I watched a 20/20 documentary on Romanian orphanages. I was so touched by this segment and the poor babies that lived in those orphanages. I remember that there were two 8-year old boys who were best friends. One year, a family came and adopted boy #1, but the other family that had come to bring home boy #2 couldn’t get their paperwork completed and had to leave him there for another year. The two boys were just sobbing at the airport as boy #1 left for America, separated for the first time ever. Then the documentary showed the family returning the next year and bringing home boy #2. What was amazing was the difference between the two boys after only one year in America. It was so striking. Boy #1 was so healthy and vibrant looking in his cute American clothes as he greeted his best friend at the airport. But boy #2 was still gaunt and hollow looking. His hair was dull and thin. It was simply crazy what real food, a good home, and the other blessings of living in a good home could do for that boy in one year! Not to mention what having the gospel would have done for any child.

When I was a teenager, my parents and I spent some time one summer helping in an orphanage in Nicaragua. Again, I was so touched by these poor babies and how sad they were in their condition. They were starving for any affection.  I grew so attached to one little girl in particular, I knew I had it in my heart to love a child not biologically mine. After that I always think my heart was open to adoption and the blessings that it can provide to everyone involved.

Before my hubby and I were married, we had a discussion one fall evening under a tree on BYU campus. We mutually discussed our complete openness to adoption. It surprised me somewhat that we were both on the same page. It was something neither of us had ever spoken of, yet neither of us were were afraid of it either.  But, a few months after we were married we became pregnant with the twins and got busy with them and life in general. We did not discuss adoption much for several years.

After daughter #3 was born, I again felt like we should investigate adoption. But I wasn’t really ready to commit to the idea since we could have our own. We heard about a program in Missouri called Baby Boarding through Agency A and decided it was the perfect option for us at the time. We would temporarily house a baby after the birthmom delivered it, but before the adoptive parents could take over custody. In Missouri, by law there has to be at least a three-day time limit where the baby must be cared for by a 3rd party. This gives the birthmom the opportunity to think about her decision and carefully weigh her thoughts before signing over her legal rights. Sometimes if there were paperwork problems, like refusal of the birth father signing, the baby could be in our house for much, much longer.

We complete all the paperwork, medical forms, home study, etc… necessary to be certified through the state and Agency A. It was the same procedure as preparing for an adoption; however, we would not be keeping any babies long term. We received calls several times about potential babies, but only received one baby in the year we had left there. Little baby Ashton (nicknamed ‘Marvin J’ by us) came from Agency C and stayed with us for two weeks. We sure loved on him, as well as all our friends there, and enjoyed having a boy around the house for awhile. Basically it was a way for us to give a good home to a baby in transition without actually dealing with the stress of adopting. It was like “dipping our toes in the water, without actually taking the plunge” is what I often say. Through this experience we also saw how working with an agency can be, and how we felt about loving a child that wasn’t biologically ours.

Needless to say, we were sad when we moved to UT and figured out that the state does not need Baby Boarding families. I could have bean a baby boarder forever and been happy just because I love babies in the newborn stage! For awhile it didn’t seem as though we would ever adopt since we could so easily have our own, but it quickly became apparent that this was not the case.

Of course, we have done anything and everything in our power to correct the secondary infertility. I had my husband give me a blessing at one point that specifically stated there was another baby for our family. And we both feel that to be accurate… but we weren’t getting a baby here. About four months ago, I started thinking about the whole adoption process again. At first, it was just passing thoughts here and there, but after a while it started to weigh on my mind more and more. I began to talk to my husband about it again.

We decided that if we were going to ask Heavenly Father to bless us with another baby we needed to also allow that the baby may need to come via another means. We both decided that we would open up all the channels possible and see how and if Heavenly Father would do the rest. So a few months ago we started the loads of paperwork once again to get certified as adoptive parents.

Currently, we have completed all the initial paperwork, which entails medical forms, financials, four reference letters, an ecclesiastical leader endorsement, fingerprinting, FBI background checks, etc. We have had our initial interview with Agency A, and filled out its paperwork online. (This entails another 2 weeks worth of questionnaires to match babies with our family and pretty much life histories for each member of our extended families and immediate family.)

My husband and I still have individual interviews with the agency, a home study review (where they look for things like fire extinguishers, baby locks etc…), and to complete our online profile (what the birthmoms see) before we will be completely done. We are about three weeks out.

We have already had some neat experiences in getting thus far. Before the adoption stuff started, I was having a lot of anxiety over my whole infertility issue. I was stressing every month, feeling bummed, etc, however since the day we handed in our initial packet for adoption, I have felt nothing but calm and peaceful. I hadn’t mentioned that to my husband, but one day he simply turned to me and said he had been feeling unbelievably calm. I totally agreed and we both recognized that we had been feeling the same way without knowing it. That was the turning point.

I recognize now that this could be a long waiting process. We have no idea at what point we will be chosen. We also understand the reality that even if we are chosen… we could potentially not bring the baby home. There are a lot of unknowns throughout this process. Even knowing all of that, and going into the process optimistically guarded, I really feel as though the right baby will find our family through biological means or via adoption. Maybe this whole thing is a “Zion’s Camp” type of experience for me, one where you have to show you have the faith to go through the process. That it is more about the journey than the destination. I have to build the kind of faith where I am completely and totally dependant on the Lord and work within His timeline. I must understand that I literally have no control over any of this baby stuff anymore. I have done everything in my power to provide opportunities for the Lord to bless our family in that way, whether biological or adoptive, and now have to simply hand it over to Him and hope for the best. We just need to work both options… and hope that one comes through for us.

Agency A has mentioned several times that often the best resource to getting a baby is by telling your family and friends. Then if they know of anyone, who knows anyone who is a young birth mother, they can help you get in contact. So we are now letting our family and friends know that we are looking for another sweet, tender baby to add to our family.

To read more, click Our Adoption Story: Part 2